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Celebrating Over 75 Years Of Service

The American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy (AAOA) represents over 2,700 Board-certified otolaryngologists and health care providers. Otolaryngology, frequently referred to as Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT), uniquely combines medical and surgical expertise to care for patients with a variety of conditions affecting the ears, nose, and throat, as well as commonly related conditions. AAOA members devote part of their practice to the diagnosis and treatment of allergic disease. The AAOA actively supports its membership through education, research, and advocacy in the care of allergic patients.

"Dedicated to enhancing knowledge and skill in the care of the allergic patient."

ADVOCACY UPDATES

What you need to comply with the pending USP General Chapter <797> Pharmaceutical Compounding — Sterile Preparations

3 key compliance criteria While the implementation date of the new USP General Chapter <797>…

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2019 AAOA Advanced Course in Allergy & immunology Optional USP 797 Compliance Workshop

Cost: $125 for AAOA members and $300 for non-members* in addition to AAOA Advanced Course registration…

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NEWS! USP General Chapter <797> Implementation Postponed

The United States Pharmacopeia announced that, due to appeals underway, the previously announced implementation date…

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Changes in MACRA

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Before the close of 2017, all physicians must take action to avoid the 4 percent cut that will be assessed in 2019 for not participating in the new Quality Payment Program (QPP) authorized by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).  Read More

CMS Announces Changes in MACRA Implementation Timeline. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced major changes to the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Re-authorization (MACRA).
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Upcoming Dates

12/01/19: Research Grant Cycle
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02/15/20: Crowdsourcing for 2020 Scottsdale
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02/15/20: Call for Proposals
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04/01/20: Fellow Exam Application Deadline
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06/01/20: Research Grant Cycle
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06/26/20: Membership Application Deadline to be eligible for AAOA Member rate for the 2020 Basic Course Learn more

09/11/20: Membership Application Deadline to be voted in at the 2020 Annual Meeting and to be eligible for AAOA Member Rate (FREE) for the 2020 Annual Meeting Learn more

EDUCATION

Here is What You Missed...

2019 New Orleans was an outstanding success?  With over 500 participants, our AAOA members left New Orleans re-energized, re-freshed, and re-engaged.  The program offered something for everyone — from cutting edge clinical content to every day how to’s for practice management efficiencies. Read More

AAOA in the Lone Star

Join us in the Lone Star State for the 2019 AAOA Advanced Course in Allergy and Immunology. This course builds on the basic clinical care of allergic patient concepts and techniques presented at the AAOA’s Basic Course in Allergy & Immunology. Read More

IFAR

IFAR Impact Factor: 2.454

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Changes in Managing Practices

Mission

Working together with AAOA staff, volunteer leadership and members will enable us to have a positive impact on our members’ practices.

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Live and Online CME

2019 Advanced Course in Allergy & Immunology
December 12-14 | Austin, TX
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2020 Basic Course in Allergy & Immunology
July 9-11 | Orlando, FL
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2020 AAOA Annual Meeting
October 23-25| Scottsdale, AZ
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AAOA Clinical Insights
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PATIENT CORNER

Off to College: Tips for Managing Allergies

Heading to college is an exciting time. What are the best ways for students to avoid exacerbation of their symptoms as they enter the hallowed halls of higher learning?

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College Allergy Symptoms Treatment Back to Shcool

News and Updates

Should I Go to Austin?

We get it.  You’ve been to the Advanced Course on Allergy & Immunology, so you…

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CEO September 2019 Update

by Jami Lucas, AAOA CEO/Executive Director Over 500 AAOA members were engaged, learning, and networking…

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Here is What You Missed…

2019 New Orleans was an outstanding success?  With over 500 participants, our AAOA members left…

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Making sense of the Over-the-Counter (OTC) Allergy Medication Aisle

There seem to be more and more medications available for allergy treatment that  you can now purchase over the counter.  The FDA has allowed some  previously “prescription-only” drugs available directly to the consumer without a prescription which adds even more options to the “over-the-counter menagerie” in the healthcare aisle — and therefore a bit confusing.

So which medications should you take to alleviate your allergy symptoms?  You may have some questions concerning therapy, such as

  • knowing which medications are indicated for the symptoms you have and when are they appropriate to take, or
  • what sideeffects could you experience with those medications, or
  • should you combine medications

Hopefully we can make some sense out of the many options you have, and make it a little bit easier to accomplish what you set out to do – relieve your allergy symptoms.

For starters,  it would be helpful to identify what allergy symptoms are.   The basic symptoms include itching, sneezing, runny nose, and congestion. Most commonly the nose, eyes, ears, and lungs are affected but some people also have skin issues or stomach irritation. I want to talk about the medications that treat the basic allergy symptoms.

There are 3 different classes of medication you can buy to help to relieve your symptoms.  Antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays including a nasal steroid spray or a mast cell stabilizer spray.  All of these medications are available without a prescription.  Medication to thin your secretions are also available but are less specific treatment for allergies.  Let’s focus on what these medications can do for you and the combinations that may be helpful to alleviate your allergies.

Antihistamines and intranasal steroid sprays are the main two medications recommended to treat allergy symptoms.  There are 4 intranasal steroids sprays now available including Flonase (fluticasone propionate), Nasacort (triamcinolone), Rhinocort (budesonide), and Sensimist (fluticasone furoate).  There are still intranasal steroid sprays available only as a prescription only and 1 combination spray available as a prescription only at this time. This class of medication will reduce all aspects of allergy that affect the nose and throat, or upper respiratory tree — itching, sneezing, runny nose, and congestion. They need to be taken daily, not as needed, or they will not be as effective and not really worth using.  The usual dose is 2 sprays in each nostril daily.

Some patients can taper the dose lower and still get adequate relief.  Intranasal steroid sprays can cause irritation of the mucosal lining, dryness in the nose, and rarely, ulceration of the mucosal lining.  Some people even develop bleeding intermittently from irritation of the lining in the nose.

Reducing the dose or taking a short break and using saline gel or an antibiotic ointment in the nose as needed can help to resolve those issues.

Oral antihistamines come as generation 1 – Benadryl or diphenhydramine, and chlorpheniramine and generation 2, which include Zyrtec, Allegra, Xyzal, and Claritin or their generic counterparts.  These medications also inhibit the allergic response and reduce symptoms of itching, sneezing, and runny nose.  They can also help with skin allergy manifestations such as allergic rashes or hives.

They will all start to work within 20-30 minutes of taking the dose and can be used daily or as needed.   They do not help with congestion symptoms if already present, but can help to inhibit congestion from occurring if you take the medication before allergy exposure occurs.  Just be aware that antihistamines can make you sleepy, especially the first-generation antihistamines.

Second generation antihistamines are supposed to be non-sedating, although some people still notice that side effect.

The other medications available over-the-counter can help but are not really targeted specifically to allergies.  They relieve symptoms generally, whether from allergies or from an upper respiratory infection or sinusitis.

Oral decongestants such as Sudafed, (pseudoephedrine)  or  topical decongestants like Afrin or neo-synephrine, can help to reduce swelling of the nasal mucosa and open the nose to improve breathing and reduce drainage.  Side effects of these medications include drying of the mucosal lining in the nose and throat.  Oral decongestants can also raise your blood pressure or make it hard to sleep.

They should not be taken routinely on a daily basis but rather as needed.  Men with prostate hypertrophy may also notice more issues with these side effects.  Topical decongestants are addictive and cause significant rebound swelling if used consistently.  As such should only be used for 2-3 days at a time for more severe symptoms.

The last medication is a mucolytic, guaifenesin (e.g., Mucinex), may help to thin your nasal secretions and help to promote better drainage.  However, there is conflicting evidence of its effectiveness.  You can find that medication in a number of OTC cold and sinus preparations with a decongestant and pain reliever.

Those combinations are intended more for upper respiratory infections and sinusitis rather than for allergies alone.

You can combine some of these classes of medication as well to get better relief of your allergy symptoms.  Nasal steroid sprays and oral antihistamines can be combined to block the allergic process in multiple ways to get better relief. You can also buy oral antihistamines with a decongestant to help with congestion along with the other symptoms of allergy treated by the antihistamine alone.

I would caution against routine usage because of the risks previously noted.

To sum up, as you walk the OTC medication aisle, you should first try either a nasal steroid spray or an oral antihistamine.  If one of these does not provide relief, then a combination of those two medications if needed may help you get relief.

If you still have symptoms, then you could use adjunct or secondary medications like decongestants or mucolytics for more complete relief of your symptoms.

There certainly are more options for allergy therapy that are best discussed with a visit to your Otolaryngologist, but this would be a good place to start when those pesky grass, tree, and weed pollens or maybe Fluffy the cat come wandering around and make you miserable.

Visit AAOA’s Patient Resources Page for more information and help.